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Savant vs Crestron for my new house

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am in the process of doing a complete rebuild of my house and am looking for advice as to which automation system to use. I am currently considering Savant or Crestron but am open to considering others. Many people are pushing Savant but I am concerned that it is a much younger company and am not sure of its staying power. House will be 10 rooms with approximately 7,000 SF. Here are details of what I am trying to automate/integrate:

1) LCD's in most rooms with one home theater
2) Lighting
3) Security (alarm as well as cameras)
4) HVAC
5) Motorized Shades
6) Stereo system to all rooms
7) Distributed Video
8) Intercom
9) Phone system
10) Jacuzzi
11) Remote access to all functions via iPad/iiPhone

I expect to need a lot of customized programming (different lighting scenes, shades to go up/down at different times of day, if alarm goes off the cameras in the zone will show on LCD's, etc.). Most people I speak to are incredibly frustrated with their Crestron systems. My sense is that is because of poor programming.

I would appreciate any advice. Thank you in advance.
post #2 of 17
Shop around for a quality integration company. Either of those hardware platforms would be a good choice, if done well. A well done Crestron system would be better than a well done Savant system, IMO.

Find a friend who is happy with their system.
post #3 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomshop View Post


I expect to need a lot of customized programming.


Customized programming = Crestron.

The single element to a well implemented system is programming. Savant's success is due to the fact that the product is nearly plug and play as compared to Crestron. Savant does require programming but on a much smaller scale than Crestron. One of the major bonuses of a Crestron UI is the ability to utilize the Architects floor plan on a touch panel.

As the client, take your time and explain to the integrator what you expect. The most difficult aspect of system design is a shared understanding of a clients expectations and an integrators ability to perform those expectations.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by K Shep View Post

Customized programming = Crestron.

The single element to a well implemented system is programming. Savant's success is due to the fact that the product is nearly plug and play as compared to Crestron. Savant does require programming but on a much smaller scale than Crestron.
Well said. The key with going with Crestron (and I have one in my house) is if you can a) afford to pay for that customization and b) can find someone competent to program it. The programming paradigm for Crestron is nothing like any other software development system and is quite arcane. So even if you are a 30 year software programmer you will know next to nothing about programming Crestron. It is a hardware paradigm with logic circuits and such masquerading as a software system. It is not brain surgery and can be learned as i have but I curse it everyday I use it. smile.gif I recently replaced an AVR in my home and it took me a morning to re-write the program to do that. In Savant it would be a 10 minute job. That difficulty leads to the many poorly programmed Crestron systems. It is the #1 system we take out (as done by other companies) and replace with something else.
Quote:
One of the major bonuses of a Crestron UI is the ability to utilize the Architects floor plan on a touch panel.
It is? Savant has TrueImage that lets the client have an actual picture of the room and you literally touch the lights to turn them on! See http://www.savantsystems.com/product-details/savant_trueimage_for_ipad.aspx, and my article: http://www.madronadigital.com/Library/PremBuilder%20Mar-Apr%202012%20Article.pdf. So if one is into that kind of thing, the Savant offering is superior.

iPad-Black-LandscapeTI1.jpg

Back to OP, if you can't determine the integrator's true programming ability, then I would opt for Savant. They have been around long enough and their business grown enough that their staying power looks pretty good. This was not the case a couple of years go but they have really moved forward to cement themselves.
post #5 of 17
Here's a write-up we did on Savant vs Control4 for today's "Smart House". While it's not a direct comparison between Creston and Savant, it should give you a good view of some of the benefits of Savant.

http://www.residentialsystemsinc.com/control4-vs-savant-for-todays-smart-home/

Personally---I think you will be happier with Savant in the long run. Crestron is a great product but we have a number of former AMX and Crestron customers who are tired of the "bugginess" of their systems and want to find something more reliable. I think Savant fits that bill very well.
post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by K Shep View Post

One of the major bonuses of a Crestron UI is the ability to utilize the Architects floor plan on a touch panel.
Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

It is?


Yes it is and if you are a Crestron dealer/installer that does large projects and works with major architects you'd know this.
Edited by K Shep - 2/18/13 at 3:17pm
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the feedback. How concerned should I be about Savant being in business for the long term? I previously had a Russound system which I really liked for basic audio but they don't seem to be making any more equipment.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomshop View Post

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the feedback. How concerned should I be about Savant being in business for the long term? I previously had a Russound system which I really liked for basic audio but they don't seem to be making any more equipment.

You should worry more about the integrator than the mfg. Savant is a solid, growing company and they are opening new facilities on the east coast. Savant acquired a lighting control company last year called Litetouch.

If you hire a good integrator they will wire your home so that it will accept change in time.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomshop View Post

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate the feedback. How concerned should I be about Savant being in business for the long term? I previously had a Russound system which I really liked for basic audio but they don't seem to be making any more equipment.
There is always a risk that the company will stop growing or innovating. We use four different Control system and moved from one of them due to that reason even though they had been around for a while. And to be fair, Savant is newer so there is more risk there.

Fortunately a control system can be replaced with another and not for a ton of money. What usually makes it very expensive to do so is that companies do not provide documentation to their customers. Without the documentation, a new system will entail tracing every wire in your home and understanding the architecture of everything that was installed which makes the costs skyrocket.

So regardless of the system, demand that you get full drawings that show all the wires and and the system schematic. If you go with Crestron, absolutely, positively ask that ALL source code be offered to you. Without it, if the company that installed it goes out of business or you don't want to work with them anymore, you will have to throw away the system even if you wanted to make a one line change to it! What gets loaded into the Crestron controller is "object code" and you cannot back convert it to source code. If the company refused to give the code to you, walk away from them. It doesn't matter how good they are. They are not pro customer if they want to hold you hostage that way. It is OK if they want a few dollars for it. Pay it and have the source code in hand. But if they refuse, walk away.

Savant is not programmed with source code that way so it is not as much of a concern there but you still want to get full set of drawings. Ask them if they use D-Tools for example. If not, ask them how they design your system otherwise. If it is on the back of a napkin, etc. my suggestion is to move on.

Edit: fixed an important typo.
Edited by amirm - 2/18/13 at 6:53pm
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Savant has TrueImage that lets the client have an actual picture of the room and you literally touch the lights to turn them on! ... So if one is into that kind of thing, the Savant offering is superior.

I'm going to have to disagree on this one, personally. I don't understand why anyone would want to do the Savant thing, other than looking cool in demos. Most of the time, we use a floorplan to select/show rooms on an entire floor (or multiple floors, depending on panel size) for things like lighting presets, thermostat, alarm status, multi-room audio, etc.

For Crestron, I'd be sure to have a well-programmed system. There are several companies that do Crestron programming called CSP's (formerly CAIP's), and some of them are awesome (I work for one). Others aren't so good. Many small dealer's programmers aren't great either (in general, I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions). But, you could request to your dealer to use an outside programming firm, and see how they respond.

I understand that many people have poorly done Crestron systems and hate them. I don't think this is necessary a good reason to not do Crestron, just a reason to make sure you use a good integrator.

By The Way: The things you listed as things you want to integrate, and custom things you want to happen, are all pretty standard for us to do. Shouldn't be anything out of the ordinary for a good dealer. We've done MUCH more complex projects.

Good Luck!
post #11 of 17
I agree with K Shep. The quality of the integrator is more important than which system you go with.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks again. For those on the Forum who are pros do you save substantial money with a Savant system given how much easier it is to program?
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

It is? Savant has TrueImage that lets the client have an actual picture of the room and you literally touch the lights to turn them on! See http://www.savantsystems.com/product-details/savant_trueimage_for_ipad.aspx, and my article: http://www.madronadigital.com/Library/PremBuilder%20Mar-Apr%202012%20Article.pdf. So if one is into that kind of thing, the Savant offering is superior.
Let me rephrase that for you Amir biggrin.gif. If one has no taste and prefers hokey form to function, with Savant you can go through the horribly inefficient process of scrolling through pictures of rooms. Or with Crestron one can use a highly efficient floorplan view which gives the user the ability to monitor and control every room in their house in an instant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mt6eOjaU4Ec
Quote:
Originally Posted by Travisleo View Post

Personally---I think you will be happier with Savant in the long run. Crestron is a great product but we have a number of former AMX and Crestron customers who are tired of the "bugginess" of their systems and want to find something more reliable.

I'm glad you acknowledge a few posts later it's actually the company doing the implementation that is most important. I recently had a Client we installed a Crestron system for ask me to look at replacing the Savant system in his other house because he and his wife were frustrated with it. Does that prove the Savant system was buggy? No, many owners love their Savant systems, my smart alec (yet accurate) comments above aside. The savant system in question was just poorly implemented, nothing more. Even though I prefer Crestron, AMX and Savant, properly implemented, are all very good systems. Why refer to them as "buggy" when it's almost always the implementation (or lack thereof) that causes people to be less than satisfied?
post #14 of 17
When planning a system everyone wants all the whistles. Trust me you want to keep it simple. All the bells and whistles fade with time and you realize you just use simple commands. Keep the cost down and keep it simple for the rest of the people using the system. Have you looked into Vantage? There direction with Equinox design is smart and with the same design on every interface makes it great for the lay customer.
post #15 of 17
Something else to consider here is warranty. A returned product out of warranty is something Savant wants nothing to do with. I can send back damn near anything Crestron has produced in the last decade and they will fix it. For a fee of course. Savant will give you 10% off buying a replacement product.

I have dealt with both situations first hand...
post #16 of 17

HI Tomshop, 

 

I realize your post is about a year old, but I am curious to find out what system you ended up with and how satisfied you are with your choice?

 

Thanks

post #17 of 17
I too was wondering what you decided. I didn't pay attention to the year on the original post. Ha. Also wondering what you used for Shades? Lutron shades are really popular, but Qmotion Shades are incredible and the company has been doing extremely well.

I know it's too late, but IMO.

The integrator is just as important if not more important than the system.
Crestron is awesome if you have the right programmer. Can do ANYTHING if willing to pay.
Savant isn't going anywhere. They've been growing and are in the process of adding more dealers. Easier programming vs Crestron saves money.
AMX is fading.
Vantage has a great new Equinox Home Automation system to go with their incredible Infusion lighting system.
C4 is popular, but is not nearly as customizable as other systems.
Elan G! is a good product that has some cool features that no one else has. It's an "App" based system. Might be a little expensive for what you get.
URC Total Control is an up and comer. It's only a few years old, but from a company that's been around forever. They have great 2way features and is a Network based system. Easy to program saves time.
RTI is rock solid. Pretty versatile for it's price. Slow to release new product, but newest products are great. Customizable graphics can be a plus but take more time to program vs similarly priced C4 and Total Control.
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